Economy

Putin extended a pipe to Europe

In Athens, President Agrees on New Russian Oil Export Route

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin should be pleased. If in Italy the Russian delegation held tough negotiations, preparing the way for diplomatic breakthroughs for the future, then in Greece, where the president arrived late Wednesday night, he was guaranteed a real result. His name is the new Russian oil pipeline in Europe.

Around the pipe a thousand millimeters wide and 300 kilometers long, which stretches between the Bulgarian city of Burgas and the Greek Alexandroupolis, there were long conversations. In the early 90s, when the Russian side proposed this mutually beneficial project, the Greeks and Bulgarians agreed, but suddenly backed up. For almost a decade and a half, the idea of ​​an oil pipeline was considered stillborn. The reason is simple — Athens and Sofia for the time being were very afraid to make Washington angry. Greece is one of the economically weakest countries in the European Union. Bulgaria — as a «young» candidate for membership in the EU and NATO.

But in September 2006, during Putin’s visit to Greece, things moved forward.

— Yes, he just got tired of it! — one of the members of the Russian delegation commented. — Putin himself took up these negotiations, and what did not work out for 15 years suddenly happened in 8 months.

It seemed that the president was annoyed by this fifteen-year-old. After signing the contract with the Greek and Bulgarian governments (shining as if the birthday boy Khristenko had signed on the Russian side and, as it seemed, he had almost rubbed his hands), Putin was understandably complacent. But as soon as the press conference started talking about the delay in construction.

“I was here last September.” — The president’s voice betrayed irritation. — Since that time, we have already covered 700 kilometers in Siberia (we are talking about the Siberian-Ocean oil pipeline). In the absence of roads, electricity. And here it’s only 300 kilometers.

Greek Prime Minister Karamanlis and Bulgarian Stanishev looked at each other. Already someone, but they knew how the Bulgarians and Greeks risked, signing an oil contract with the Russians. On the one hand, delicious multi-million dollar revenues for oil transit (only Bulgarians will receive 2.5 billion a year). On the other, there is growing US pressure.

The Americans made their last attempt to disrupt the agreement a few days before Putin’s visit. US Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryz traveled to Athens to exhort the rebellious Greeks. But the young Greek prime minister Karamanlis fearlessly and famously replied: «I see no reason why this should be the topic of negotiations with anyone.»

These words are worth a lot to Moscow. No wonder in Greece there is talk that this energy contract with Russia is certainly not the last.

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